With plenty of accounting certifications available around the world, it will be a real difficulty to find the one which suits the best for you. 

A career in finance is the most intriguing option that pays very well. If you are someone interested in financial management or strategic planning, taking up a financial certification course is the best bet for your career. Taking up a finance course can open up a plethora of options and opportunities in the future.

A career decision should never be made in haste. When you hurry while making a decision regarding your career, a wrong decision can cost you a lot.

In this blog, let me share the comparison of two diamond-level certifications in finance, the US CMA and ACCA. These certifications are one of a kind and are immensely valued around the globe. So take your sweet time going through this blog and choose which certification among US CMA and ACCA is best for you.

What is the Difference Between CMA and ACCA?

What is the difference between CMA and ACCA?

CMA’s full form is “Chartered Management Accountant,” and ACCA’s full form is “Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.” A CMA professional mainly deals with comprehensive financial data and identifies growth strategies for businesses. An ACCA mainly deals with the fields of audit and tax and the accounting principles which support them around. 

Here is a Brief List of Differences Between CMA and ACCA:

Certificate IssuerAssociation of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
Eligibility12th pass with a minimum of 60%12th pass/Undergraduate
Course Duration2 to 3 Years12 Months to 18 Months 
Pass rate40% to 50%45%
Job TitlesManagement ConsultantBusiness AnalystAuditorTax consultantSubject Matter expertFinancial Analyst Accountant Investment BankerFinancial Advisor Internal Auditor Budget Analyst.
PatternThree Levels, 
Applied knowledge level
Applied Skill level
Strategic Professional Level (Essential)
Strategic Professional Level (options)
Two parts: Part I & Part II
Part I – Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics
Part II – Strategic Financial Management
No of Papers13 Papers2 Papers
Recognition GlobalGlobal


US CMA vs ACCA: Which is Best for You?


CMA VS ACCA: Exam Pattern

US CMA vs ACCA: Exam Syllabus

US CMA vs ACCA: Eligibility

Salary and Career Opportunities: US CMA vs ACCA

US CMA vs ACCA: Skill Set

Which is the Best Designation for You?


What is US CMA?

What is US CMA?

Certified Management Accountant is the professional credential one gets if one clears their US CMA course. CMA credential defines that a candidate has the significance of exceptional knowledge in financial planning, analysis, control, and decision domains, along with remarkable decision-making.

US CMA certification is offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA US) and is globally valid and valued.

US CMA exam registrations will be processed in association of IMA with the Institute of Certified Management Accountants (ICMA). ICMA will take the entire responsibility in terms of exam changes and CMA certification requirement standards.

CMA professionals mainly deal with analyzing the data and deciphering it to help with financial changes and improvements in the business. On the contrary, CPAs will be crunching the numbers and statistics to identify strategies behind businesses’ decision-making and there off based on the financial analysis.

The most familiar career paths that CMA professionals tend toward being

  • Financial Analyst
  •  Accountant
  •  Investment Banker
  • Financial Advisor
  •  Internal Auditor
  •  Budget Analyst

What is ACCA?

What is ACCA?

ACCA is one of the most promising accounting courses to date around the world. ACCA certification indicates that the professional has significant knowledge in areas of tax and audit. ACCA is controlled by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and is United Kingdom-based. ACCA, being a UK-based certification, has more value in commonwealth countries. 

As an ACCA professional, the job role mainly focuses on business taxation, financial statements, management accounting, law, and business ethics. 

The most common job titles an ACCA professional works in are:

  • Management Consultant
  • Business Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Tax consultant
  • Subject Matter expert

CMA VS ACCA: Exam Pattern

CMA VS ACCA: Exam Pattern

US CMA Exam Pattern:

  • US CMA Exam has two parts. 

Part I – Financial Planning, Performance, and Analytics

  Part II – Strategic Financial Management

Each Part will have two sections in the exam.

Section I – MCQ questions – 100 No’s

Section II – Essay scenario question – 2 No’s

  • US CMA exams are conducted thrice a year in three windows
  • January – February
  • May – June
  • September – October
US CMA Testing Windows 2022US CMA Exam Dates 2022
January – FebruaryJanuary 01, 2022 – February 28, 2022
May – JuneMay 01, 2022 – June 30, 2022
September – OctoberSeptember 01, 2021 – October 31, 2021

In parts I and II, each section has its respective weightage; one section can have more weightage than the other. So candidates must keep in mind the weightage of each chapter and prepare accordingly.

ACCA Exam Pattern:

ACCA certification offered by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has 2 levels or modules.

  1. Fundamentals
  2. Professionals

The fundamentals level will have a total of 9 papers. These 9 papers or subjects are divided into two more modules 

  1. Knowledge level/ Module – Three papers
  2. Skill level/ Module – Six papers

Knowledge Module:

  • F1 – Accountant in Business
  • F2 – Management Accounting
  • F3 – Financial Accounting

Skills Level/ Module:

  • F4 – Corporate and Business Law
  • F5 – Performance Management
  • F6 – Taxation
  • F7 – Financial Reporting
  • F8 – Audit and Assurance
  • F9 – Financial Management

The professional module/ level has will have two modules.

  1. Essentials – 3 papers
  2. Options – 4 Papers


  • P1 – Governance, Risk, and Ethics
  • P2 – Corporate Reporting
  • P3 – Business Analysis

Options (two to be completed)

  • P4 – Advanced Financial Management
  • P5 – Advanced Performance Management
  • P6 – Advanced Taxation
  • P7 – Advanced Audit and Assurance

Each Paper has two sections in the exam:

  1. Section A – MCQ questions based on scenarios
  2. Section B- Individual questions based on subjects

The first four exams in ACCA are to be taken on demand. You can book a slot with an approved ACCA CBE center any time of the year or whenever you feel ready for the test.

The remaining nine exams will be conducted 4 times a year in the following months

  • March
  • June
  • September
  • December

US CMA vs ACCA: Exam Syllabus

US CMA vs ACCA: Exam Syllabus

US CMA and ACCA deal with different topics throughout the course. Even though a few topics might overlap in the syllabus, ACCA has a more comprehensive syllabus when compared to CMA. In CMA, there are a total of two parts, while ACCA has 13 papers in total:

US CMA Syllabus:

  • US CMA Exam has two parts: Part I & Part II
Part I – Financial Planning, Performance & AnalyticsPart II:  Strategic Financial Management
A – External Financial Reporting DecisionsA – Financial Statement Analysis
B – Planning, Budgeting & ForecastingB – Corporate Finance
C – Performance ManagementC – Decision Analysis
D – Cost ManagementD – Risk Management
E – Internal ControlsE – Investment Decisions
F – Technology & AnalyticsF – Professional Ethics

ACCA Exam Syllabus:

The subjects of ACCA are-

Knowledge Level:

  1. F1. Accountant in Business
  2. F2. Management Accounting
  3. F3. Financial Accounting

Skills Level:

  1. F4. Corporate and Business Law
  2. F5. Performance Management
  3. F6. Taxation
  4. F7. Financial Reporting
  5. F8. Audit and Assurance
  6. F9. Financial Management

Essentials Level:

  1. P1. Strategic Business Reporting (SBR)
  2. P2. Strategic Business Leader (SBL)


  1. P3. Advanced Financial Management (AFM)
  2. P4. Advanced Audit and Assurance (AAA)
  3. P5. Advanced Taxation (ATX)
  4. P6. Advanced Performance Management (APM)

US CMA vs ACCA: Eligibility

US CMA vs ACCA: Eligibility

So, who is eligible for US CMA is decided based on the prerequisites stated by IMA. Here are the eligibility criteria based on education and experience:

  • In terms of education: Students pursuing their bachelor’s degree in any subject are eligible to take the CMA exams.
  • In terms of experience: A minimum of two years of professional experience in accounting or finance is required for admission to the master’s program. For graduates with less than two years of professional experience and foreign applicants, the required experience may be completed within seven years of passing the examination.

In order to be eligible for the ACCA Exam Candidate must:

  • 12th passed out with a minimum of 65% in at least two subjects and scored a minimum of 50% in the remaining subjects.
  • To qualify as an ACCA, a minimum of 3 years of continuous work experience is a prerequisite as per rules mentioned by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Institute. 
  • But it is not a must that you have these 3-year experience before you qualify for your ACCA exams. Students preparing for ACCA can gain experience after clearing all ACCA papers as an ACCA Affiliate

Salary and Career Opportunities: US CMA vs ACCA

Salary and Career Opportunities: US CMA vs ACCA

Salary is one such factor that can sometimes wholly decide which certification you are going for. The average salary earned by either a CMA or an ACCA professional can and will be influenced by many factors like skill set, experience, and Industries.

Let’s look into the different career opportunities and respective salaries made by CMA and ACCA professionals: 

Job titles of US CMA:

  • Business Analyst
  • Cost Accountant
  • Financial Controller
  • Finance Analyst
  • Internal Auditor
  • Budget Analyst
  • Treasurer
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Finance Officer (CFO)

Getting an ACCA certification gives you tons of career opportunities and paths to choose from. From the option of choosing to go for a master’s degree, start your own business, or step into conglomerates, the possibilities for ACCA professionals are endless. 

Based on the industry, job title, and sector you desire to work in, ACCA professionals will have plenty of job titles to opt from.

Here is the list of job titles that are in trend and most opted for by ACCA professionals:

  • Management Consultant
  • Business Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Tax consultant
  • Subject Matter expert
  • Financial Accountant
  • Corporate Treasurer
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Business owner
  • Financial Analyst
  • Credit Controller

The salary earned by CMA and ACCA professionals almost goes hand in hand. A US CMA fresher can make an average salary of around INR5 lakhs whereas an ACCA professional can make earn an average salary of around INR6 lakhs.

These figures are not different around the world; based on the country and demand there, the average salary earned by these two credentials can vary a lot. For example, in several countries like the UAE in the Middle East, CMA professionals tend to earn more when compared to ACCA professionals. 


ACCA is a well-established credential all over the world. In comparison, ACCA has more value than CMA, as ACCA has produced more professionals than CMA.

The number of people taking the CMA certification course is increasing these days and is expected to increase even more in the coming years.

US CMA vs ACCA: Skill Set

US CMA vs ACCA: Skill Set

There is a wide difference between the skill sets possessed by US CMA professionals and ACCA professionals. It is vital to consider this difference because skill sets will be the stepping stones when choosing your career path.

Here is the summary of the prime skills of US CMA professionals:

  1. Strategical planning and forecasting – It is the ability to analyze, and evaluate the plan of the business and thereby forecast the risk involved and manage it.
  2. Technology and Analytics- It is the skill to organize, visualize and assimilate the data available for smart decision-making.
  3. Reporting and Internal Control- Knowing how to segregate the duties to minimize the risk of error plus measuring the actual organization’s performance against standards and reporting the same.
  4. Professional Ethics- Maintaining respect for work, team members, discipline, and legal compliance at all times.
  5. Business Acumen and Decision making – The ability to comprehend, judge, and call the best decision that benefits the organization in a particular area.
  6. Performance Supervision & Guidance- Effective communication in a way to guide and inspire your team members to reach the targets in a positive tone.

Summary of the Skillset of an ACCA professional:

  1. Critical Thinking
  2. Decision making
  3. Technical Skills
  4. Creativity
  5. Professionalism and Professional Ethics

Which is the Best Designation for You?

To be frank, deciding which course to take will be entirely based on personal choice. ACCA and CMA are great certifications to begin with in terms of pay, career opportunities, and learning outcomes. 

Based on your long-term and short-term goals like where you want your career to be headed? Do you want to work as a financial manager or have a career entirely in tax and audit? For example, if you are someone aiming to begin low in accounting and head towards a top-level management position, then CMA is the best bet for you. 

The location you prefer can also be a determining factor for you; if you want to work in European countries, then ACCA is the best option for you because an ACCA professional working in European countries has the highest pay in any other region in the world. Similarly, if you are centered in Middle Eastern countries, then CMA is the best option for you, as CMAs working in Middle East countries like UAE draw the highest average salary. 

If you want to take a well-established course with a proven record of pay and employment, then ACCA can be your go-to. CMA will be an option for you if you want to hop on the trend and study a top financial program that is gaining popularity and getting accepted around the world.

Invisor can help you with the process of your US CMA and ACCA preparation. Our tailored circular and support can guide you in clearing the exams with the right attitude and perspective toward learning.